A little while ago I bent my first ever legitimate 60-penny nail. I did this in the reverse grip meaning my hands were facing opposite directions. Since then I have bent one in the double overhand position which I am working more on.
Bending steel has been something that has interested me for a while. What originally got me into it was reading Spiritual Journey of Joseph L. Greenstein: The Mighty Atom. If you haven’t read this book then you are missing out. It is required reading for any strength athlete. Unfortunately it is out of print but you can still find some used copies. And I have done it off and on since that time. The reason I have gotten back into is just because my friend was getting good at it, and I felt it necessary to catch up. Originally I worked with the Ironmind Bag of Nails. This is an excellent way to start. It comes with five levels of nails. White, Green, Yellow, Blue, and Red. Bending the Red Nail is a feat very few people in the world can do.
Once you get into bending you will probably be visiting your local hardware store to buy different lengths and qualities of steel to prepare your own. The Bag of Nails also comes with a hand pad (necessary so that you don’t damage your hands) but I prefer strips of leather instead.
Just saw a red nail get bent for the first time ever. While assisting at the RKC in Minnesota a couple weeks ago, one night we had some fun up in the hospitality suite. We bent steel, tore cards and phonebooks in half. Brett Jones took care of the red nail. It was very impressive. He also gave us some tips on bending and other feats. Very helpful and a great guy.
Why should you consider bending nails? Bending steel requires whole body tension. It will teach you how to use your entire body in one concentrated effort. People may think that it as a grip feat but that is only a piece of the puzzle.
It will also build your mind powers. This feat is really all about mind over matter. You will never bend a piece of steel you don’t believe you can. Wrapping your mind around the feat is as important as building the strength to be able to do it.
For example, the first time I ever bent a yellow nail (which is a hefty step up from the green) is right after my friend told me he had bent one. Now that it was ‘possible’ I finished off my first one. It took me about 15 minutes with a long break in the middle but I did it. This kind of thing happens very often which is a good reason to train with other people at least some of the time.
Another reason bending steel is great is because it is satisfying and fun. Perhaps I am weird like that, but knowing that you can demolish a piece of iron is very gratifying. Besides it is quite amazing to your average person and thus a great party trick.
My father used to bend 60 penny nails. He bent his first one in 1944 at age 17. His father was a carpenter who used them to start framing off 6″X6″ corners. He performed this feat throughout his life until about age 55-56. He once once won a $100.00 bet with a wrestler named the Mighty Atlas as I recall his recounting. This happened in 1953 when he was a member of the Chicago Bears football team in the barbershop of a Chicago hotel. He said I was there to get my hair cut with him, but I was 4 at the time and don’t remember this event. His name was Leon Campbell. He was from Bauxite Arkansas and played college ball for the University of Arkansas.